Posts Tagged ‘Intimate Theatre’

Last Friday evening, I was kept on the edge of both my seat (and snorting with laughter) by another quirky escapade at the Intimate Theatre. This gripping journey led me down Mafeking Road, where some of Herman Charles Bosman’s well-loved stories can be relived and enjoyed by today’s generation.

The 60 min jam-packed joyride, presented by The Pink Couch at the The Intimate Theatre in Cape Town, won the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award for Physical Theatre at the National Arts Festival 2011, in Grahamstown. The talented Andrew Laubscher (from Lovborg’s  Women, and  Is  it  because  I’m  Jack?) and Mathew Lewis (Lenny  and  the  Wasteland) are skillfully directed by Tara Notcutt (director of …miskien; Dream, Brother; and Thom Pain) to bring you four colourful tales of Oom Bosman, such as In The Withaak’s Shade, and Willem Prinsloo’s Peach Brandy in a brand-spanking  new, fresh, and creative way with complete unadulterated wit!

From opposite sides of the small, dark theatre, two humorless men size each other up, and then slowly walked towards each other, with tension mounting with every step – and then, well, it all dissolves into what can only be described as awe-inspiring silliness. Once again I was gob smacked by the utter professionalism of this tiny theatre, its crew, the lighting and the top quality acting from the Thespians centre stage.

Mafeking Road is physical theatre at its finest. Far from just an experiment in mime, it welcomes you into a world of imagination, perfect timing and offbeat humour. The pair whirls through a variety of characters who call the Groot Marico home. Their unwavering pace, physical stamina, and perfect characterization made it easy for us as an audience to remain devoted to their story throughout. Tara’s fine handiwork is apparent in the incredible accuracy & timing of every gesture, accent, and facial expression.

Even with the black box styled theatre and simple denim jeans and white shirt costumes, they embodied every distinctive character with absolute charm and effect; from Bertie, the panicky horse, the seducing beauty, fresh out of finishing school, dreamy-eyed Schalk in Willem Prinsloo’s Peach Brandy, the drunken congregant and altar-wine-fetcher, getting progressively more intoxicated as the service went on, to the mother, youngster and deaf granny at the “kerk diens” from hell, that just would not end. While the stage remained empty, they painted the scenery of a “koppie” in the veld so vividly with subtle sound effects and hand movement; I could literally smell the soft sand and African heat in the air.

In this truly physically demanding production, Tara made sure they used every inch of their bodies, right down to their incredibly expressive fingers, and yet everything was done with such spectacular ease and conviction that we, the audience, had no alternative but to allow ourselves to be swallowed up by it all. Mafeking Road is the perfect length for such a riveting, physical and fast-paced production too. It’s so much fun to watch and I only noticed afterwards how sore my cheeks and tummy muscles were  from laughing so much!

The Pink Couch came onto the theatre scene with the goal of making theatre cool again for young people. It was started by Tara Notcutt, Mathew Lewis, Gideon Lombard and Albert Pretorius, and this year they welcomed James MacGregor to take a seat on the couch. Dedicated to making brave, original, and sexy South African theatre, they aim to present new or existing work in a fresh way that reaches out to a younger and bilingual audience. Not only making some noise at the 2011 National Arts Festival, Grahamstown with the hit, …miskien, and the brand new Mafeking  Road, The Pink Couch also joined up with Jon Keevy to take up the reins of the fabulous curated venue, Cape  Town  Edge, which was heard to have made some noise of its own.

From Cape Town to Stellenbosch, to Grahamstown, to Potchefstroom, The Pink Couch is making its mark on the national theatre scene. The two-year old company has already seen some great successes, among them a Fleur du Cap and two Silver Standard Bank Ovation Awards and the Clover Soveel Beter prize for Best Production at Aardklop 2011. It has now made its company-debut on the international stage, with …miskien being invited to the Amsterdam Fringe Festival, where it received a 5 star review, as well as a Jury Commendation, making it one of the Top 8 shows of 80 at the festival.

Overall, Mafeking Road is clearly much more potent than the love juice of the juba berry, and will give my heart happy flutters everytime I think back on it. I hope to see many more such original and youthful productions from Tara and her team in the near future. Well done guys! Four stamps of approval on the Tish-o-meter.

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Woody Allen’s fictional Scandinavian playwright, Jorgen Lovborg, was no lady’s man, in fact, quite the opposite. The poor creature had terrible trouble with the fairer sex, yet was able to channel his genius (or rather Woody’s genius) into creating the most memorable of female characters in the history of imaginary dramatists.

Driven to create depressing, shocking plays of the realism / naturalism genre, as well as to bring about a safer means of weighing herring, Lovborg brought us the side-splitting Geese Aplenty, A Mother’s Gums, Those Who Squirm, I Prefer to Yodel, While We Three Hemorrhage, and Mellow Pears. He was led by his predecessors, Ibsen & Chekov, who carved the way for his exceptional ability to find the funny side within the stagnant framework of realism.

His works came alive once again in Cape Town’s Intimate Theatre last Tuesday, when the Mechanicals Theatre Company performed Lovborg’s Women. Here we considered and reconsidered some of these larger-than-life female characters with hilarious consequences.

The Intimate Theatre is exactly that, intimate. It’s snuggled in between two of UCT’s old campus buildings and the only thing indicating its whereabouts are some beautifully lit fairy lights. A true Pediophobiac, I was a little freaked out by the dolls they had displayed at the entrance of the theatre, but other than that, it was so quaint and lovely. The black box styled theatre itself is small and had me practically spilling onto the stage from the front row.

Immediately, I found myself being swallowed up by the experience. The actors were close enough to touch – literally – yet completely engrossed in their characters. Their use of sound effects was perfectly executed and lighting was simple, yet effective to set the appropriate mood. Their clever use of uncomplicated props and stage furniture made each scene unique, flowing effortlessly into each other.

The wit was infectious and had us on the edge of our seats throughout the entire show. Not once did the actors drop the pace and momentum of the piece, even through rigorous costume changes, interpretive DV8-like dancing, and flamboyant Lady Gaga & Madonna impersonations. It had me, an old Performing Arts graduate, in stitches as they considered and reconsidered the naturalistic ideals of Lovborg and other realism playwrights before him, and their comical use of theatrical terminology made me snicker with delight. This being said, it would appeal to those who don’t necessarily understand all the drama mumbo-jumbo, as the performance is jam-packed with physical humour and general silliness.

As you can see on the poster above, the show continues until the 21st of May, and I strongly urge you to get yourselves down to Cape Town’s Intimate Theatre and treat yourself to this quirky and well-directed production. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.